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Census takers targeted 113 times this month

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Updated 8:18 a.m. ET
More than 113 census takers have been the victims of assaults or attacks this month, the U.S. Census Bureau said late Wednesday.

In response to inquiries by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Census Director Robert Groves said the bureau's temporary workers knocking on doors to collect information have faced 29 threats involving a gun, four robberies and three instances of being held against their will or carjacked. Seven workers died in car accidents and one was killed while off duty.

The Census Bureau hired about 635,000 people to follow up with people who did not return questionnaires by the end of April. The process is more than half completed, and is scheduled to continue into July.

Bureau officials said the overall pattern and types of incidents are similar to the 2000 census, but cautioned this year's figures are already much higher than ten years ago and include a mix of news accounts and formal reports to the bureau's safety office.

The incidents include a census worker carjacked by a 14-year old and a California incident that resulted in the death of a woman.

Aides said Maloney requested the information to determine whether news reports were accurately reflecting a trend or merely focusing on a few incidents.

“These acts of violence against census enumerators are tragic, especially when you consider these temporary workers were only trying to do their job making sure their neighbors are accurately and fairly counted in the Decennial Census," Maloney said.

Twenty-one census workers died on the job between 1998 and 2009, according to agency figures. The attacks come as the agency announced stricter hiring rules on Wednesday after a registered sex offender using an alias got a job as a census taker.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | May 27, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Census, Eye Opener  
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Two issues come readily to mind.

1. With unemployment so high there will be crime against people who travel in unfamiliar communities.

2. With all of the anti-government rhetoric by the right-wing and the GOP for the past ten years its only to be expected that unarmed government employees are seen as targets by some political maggots.

Posted by: aahpat | May 27, 2010 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Imagine census workers arming -- which would only exacerbate the situation -- census workers shooting back that is -- and I blame Fox for feeding the paranoia, in part. But I have to think those who program Fox are just as nutty as their audience...

At a certain point you start living the fantasy, right?


Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 27, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Many people were upset by the questions on this census - especially the one on race. I refused to answer that question and no census taker has come to the door. It is our right to refuse to answer any question we feel is intrusive and evidently there is no punishment for refusing.

One woman told me that her son had worked as a census taker and had been threatened with guns on three occasions. Needless to say, he quit. I would imagine that there were many more instances than the number mentioned here.

Of course, when a census counts illegals and the numbers of residents counted means the number of representatives for an area in our Congress, it can make anyone angry. Why count illegals?

Posted by: Utahreb | May 27, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I heard a Republican at Bullfeathers on Tuesday laughing about how he has been avoiding the Census worker assigned to his neighborhood.

They are all for the Constitution when it suits there political interests and do what they want any other time.

Save America, vote Democrat or Third Party.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | May 27, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to the Tea Party and the right wing radio "mouthpieces", paranoia has been raised to new heights. Sadly, the Republicans have pushed inaccurate information in order to run up the census bill and blame the current adminbistration.
Sadly, Republicans do not believe in the Constitution (ask GWB) except when it serves their masters, big business (banking, oil, Wall Street) or foreign governments.

Posted by: pjohn2 | May 27, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

So maybe funds that were to go to some communities won't go there since the stats will change. Great...send the funds to MY community! Then let those who feel they are left out go figure!

Posted by: DecafDrinker | May 27, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

So the only time that the right-wing radio creeps have an influence on their listeners is when it's convenient for them to claim it, and when their listeners engage in violence, right-wing radio creeps had no influence at all.

For Utahreb, whose comments mostly speak for themselves, "Why count illegals?"

Because the Constitution calls for it? As stated in Article I Section 2.

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.)"

The only people not to be included were Indians who were not taxed, and they all are now, and now slavery has been abolished, even if supporters of Rand Paul and Fox News believe that only some people should have civil rights. Of course, nobody can expect that the people who shriek about returning to the Constitution should pay any attention to the explicit language of the Constitution. That would be too rational.

Posted by: edallan | May 27, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Groves is a statistical kind of guy. He was probably shown numbers on the expected number of deaths, injuries, robberies, etc that the temporary Census takes would encounter, and accepted them as "within normal ranges."
Why don't these folks travel in pairs? Too costly?? Tell that to the families of those who died serving the Census.

Posted by: woodchucky8 | May 27, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

What do you expect when you have 3 political parties trying to get publicity by delegitimizing everything the government does.(Republican, Libertarian, Tea Party) , yet they insist that the government can run an army and secure the border. How could that be?

Posted by: majorteddy | May 27, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

As one of those hired to do the census I can say that out of the 18 in my group none have reported violence. We work in our neighborhood, are told to not enter peoples homes, we work outside the door, and not to be confrontational.

If someone does not want to take the census we mark it as a refusal and it's in the hands of the government. I will say that like most government agencies the management is so incompetent, many milk meetings so they can bill the agency. Meetings that should take 10 minutes are dragged out for an hour.

We are told if someone is not available, or does not want to take the census, to go to their neighbors for info. I know that if someone knocks on my door for info on my neighbors the door is going to close after a polite no thank you.

Posted by: PatrickNYC1 | May 27, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

anybody that attacks someone just for doing their job should be gunned down on the spot.

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | May 27, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

What's wrong with people? Attacked for trying to do their job? Crazy!

Why is there so much controversy with the census? It is beneficial to all of us to know WHO lives here, HOW MANY lives on and so on. Imagine if there were no statisctics in any form? A lot of life decisions are made based on statical numbers....i.e school info. If you have children, one of the first things you want to know is, performance and ethnic ratio. Come on people, stop being so petty and return the darn thing!

Posted by: caddyb | May 27, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Obamas illegal voters DON"T like the spotlight being placed on them. Time to provide census takers with rifles!

Posted by: Winston13 | May 27, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

edallan/utahreb: Somehow, I don't think the illegals stand up and say "here I am, I'm an illegal." I just don't think they stand up to be counted. Most of them "run away", when someone official comes around.

Posted by: linda_521 | May 27, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Of course, when a census counts illegals and the numbers of residents counted means the number of representatives for an area in our Congress, it can make anyone angry. Why count illegals?

Posted by: Utahreb | May 27, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse


Because it is in the Constitution. I thought the TP'ers honored that. To be precise, there is to be a count of everyone present in the United States.


Posted by: JakeD3 | May 27, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

This is the result of the complete stupidity that has engulfed a percentage of people living in this country. It is easily exploited by wingnuts in the GOP.

Posted by: LABC | May 27, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: dc1020008 | May 27, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Read the Constitution. The government has
the right to "Enumerate" the population
every 10 years. I returned the form with
that number filled in, nothing else. If they
show up at my door asking for anything I
will hand the census worker a handy little
pocket edition I keep for official hacks who
apparently lost their copy, ask them to
leave and close the door.

Posted by: Fred54 | May 27, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm a census worker. There's been only one instance of a threat in the group I work with, that I've heard of, and the higher ups decided to just not count that area, as it was too dangerous. We are not allowed to carry any weapons, or so I was told.

I can tell you, it is most likely NOT right wingnuts doing these things. It's more likely that these census takers were working in dangerous areas. And some of you have made the point about illegals. Some of them do want to fill it out. Some of them do want to do the right thing. Just some.

And as far as the racial question, I always let people know they can refuse to answer any question. That IS your right.

I would suggest all census workers simply make their safety a priority. No working late hours, requesting back up if they need it, or declaring an area unsafe if they are threatened. It's just a job.

Posted by: Noca | May 27, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Let's see, hundreds of millions of Americans are being confronted by government workers in the depth of a politician-created Great Depression, and only 100 were injured?

IT IS A CRISIS! Suspend the Constitution! Erode more civil liberties! Authorize overseas assassinations of U.S. citizens! Torture is OK too! Seize homes! Prison for drug users!

Give another hundred billion dollars to the criminal banking mafia!

In other words Shut Up, just Shut Up, you propaganda-spewing Establishment tool.

Posted by: TheFifthMusket | May 27, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I've worked with the Census since January, first as a Crew Leader now as an Enumerator for Non-Response Follow Up.

I can tell you first hand that our Local Census Office DOES NOT CARE ABOUT OUR SAFETY. I have personally come across a few places that are not safe (mainly due to someone threatening me), and I also know other workers that have as well. When this happens we write an report about it (INFO-COMM) and submit it as a "refusal".

OUR OFFICE (LCO #3228) IS NOT ACCEPTING REFUSALS. This is utterly ridiculous. They expect us to keep returning, numerous times, to the address until we get an answer from them. I can't believe that our office does not care about our safety. They just want numbers.

I am so infuriated by the Census and their policies. The reason I don't quit is because it's almost over and work is hard to find these days. I am glad to be working for a decent hourly wage. But to put myself in potential risk? I don't know if it's worth it.

I wish I could expose the Census' operations to the world to let everyone know exactly how the operate.

Posted by: mr_roboto24 | May 27, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

President Obama will skip the Memorial Day Ceremonies at Arlington, he is too busy but will have time to attend a Paul McCartney concert....Just another insult to
The American People and Our Brave soldiers
that served our country....Nice Going Mr President

Posted by: akeegan2 | May 27, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I just noticed at how lpsided this reply board is. It's full of idoits with just a few common people with good sence.
People wake up and realize what is happening to america. YOur congress is spending more money than I can even imagine exists. Obama is playing you for a fool to get what he wants and just who in the H@LL do you think is going to pay for everything.
For those of you whom refuse to take off your blinders you deserve what is coming for the rest of us we need to get off our butts and vote

Posted by: castnet55 | May 27, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I've heard of criminals being hired to do the census. One here was on the sex offenders list. Another one brought their dog who bit a resident. Who knows what repercussions they'll be after the census is over. These clowns are probably casing the area. One had Obama stickers all over their car....

Posted by: RoseKelly | May 27, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

It is true that almost every single post here convinces someone that idiots are posting.

Posted by: gardoglee | May 27, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I also worked as an Enumerator but quit recently. It's true that the people working in the Census Office refuse to accept Questionnaire's that aren't completely filled out. If you turn in a refusal or a questionnaire where you were unable to locate anyone to provide information for the unit, they return them and expected you to return to the unit at least 12 times. If someone doesn't want to answer the Census, he shouldn't have to. Our local Census Office here in Chicago doesn't care about the workers who are being subjected to threats. As for working in pairs, the Census Bureau doesn't want to pay two people to go to the same house.

Posted by: keke2 | May 27, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

One would have to be a fool not to look at our government than any other way than oppressive. We have lost our freedoms and are now being tabulated and recorded for future privacy invasion. This country quit being a free nation with the introduction of income tax, social security, and the marijuana tax act. Seizure of property without just compensation by the government
was one of the foundations of our freedoms all ended by our government on the premise that the end justifies the means. Free country what a joke. The government of the USA does not represent the will of the people just special interest lobby groups such as banks, utilities, you name it. No wonder any arm of the government is seen as an enemy as they invade our privacy once again.

Posted by: mantec77 | May 28, 2010 5:28 AM | Report abuse

Is a census taker's life less valuable that of a police officer? But then why do anything? All citizens are attacked daily from the air and nothing is done. Our lives, our land and those of our children and grandchildren are attacked. But I'm sure there are pills to fix it and lots of spewing oil to keep all warm while dying.

Posted by: wildernesslight | May 28, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

I was a census worker in 2000. I had been through a layoff and did it as a way to make money will I looked for work. I am a very small blue eyed blond woman who lives in the suburbs and I was assigned the worst areas in the city of Nashville. I would see people look through their blinds and not answer when they saw me. People were very suspicious of why I was there and did not understand what the census was and therefore did not want to give their information. I think the government should just do the mail outs. If they aren't returned those people just don't get counted.

Posted by: kctb | May 28, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

As a census taker from 2000, I truly do not understand what the problem is with the questions they ask this year. The race question - are you not proud of your race? Do people not realize something about your race that you want to hide it? Have some pride in yourself. Frankly, I think they should just assign the census survey to the post office employees. Mail people know everything about the (who and how many) people that are on their routes : People trust their mail people and I bet the mail people would like some of that extra money.

Posted by: kdka2 | May 28, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

In reading all of this I think it comes down to one thing......choice. If you don't want to answer the census, don't. The freedoms afforded by this country allow us to make that choice. In choosing not to answer the census, that person must recognize that he/she won't be counted. Again...a choice.
Unfortunately, the polarization of the political parties in this country has fueled a strong sense of paranoia regarding the government and, although greatly exaggerated, there is absolutely an ulterior motive to the census. I am not saying it is bad or terrible, just that things are not always what they seem. I for one feel that until my confidence has been fully restored in my government and I can trust it completely, I will not voluntarily provide any information that is not required and prosecutable by law. It is absolutely terrible that so many people have been hurt or lost their lives in this process. No one should suffer for doing their job. I think the government should view this as a wake up call. They should have thought about how this would have been perceived and thought about the safety of their workers. Moreover, they should recognize the lack of response to the census as a vote of no confidence by the people and work diligently to restore our trust.

Posted by: jvass13 | May 28, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

How many years has the census bureau taken this count. Americans, please, stand up and be counted. Why does everything in this country have to be a WTF argument? The census asked a few SIMPLE questions with nothing offensive that I was aware of. Maybe people who show out like this have something to hide. Wake up and be counted. WTF!!!!!

Posted by: sgarrison1 | May 28, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I did the enumeration for the Census this year and I can tell you that you will run across people that are aggressive and have absolutly no trust for the government. I understand that and if they will not answer the question of how many people are living there, then I go to a neighbor. It is that simple and there was never any need to put myself in any danger by arguing with anyone.
The count is to determine the number of Representatives from each state and the rest of the information, by statute, is kept confidential for 72 years. At that point it is made public for geneology purposes.
If you sent in a questionaire with only the number of individuals at the residence, there would be no need for an interview.
This job was not rocket science and some people made it out to be harder than it was.

Posted by: BroncoMike60 | May 28, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I find it amazing that so many people, in a country that prides itself as being a leader in the world, can be filled with so many lemmings...(those are those little animals where when one runs off a cliff the rest follow).

I find it extremely offensive that my family having been born and raised in this country for 7 generations CAN'T LAWFULLY write in that I AM AN AMERICAN.

In 1964 our government instituted the Civil Rights Amendment, which by the way was fought by the demoncrats (Al Gores father was one of them), which stated flatly that race plays NO ROLE and CAN'T BE CONSIDERED for or USED AGAINST ANYONE.

But nearly everyday I hear the Media or some government official race baiting and this census is a perfect example. Latinos were divided into little categories, Asians were divided into their little categories, etc...

But if a person is born here or in Briton, France, Russia, etc... and the their skin color is WHITE the only option our government gave us was to choose WHITE. I AM AN AMERICAN whose skin just happens to be white, my neighbor Jerry IS AN AMERICAN whose skin just happens to be black.

Forget about party, both parties are corrupt. Think country, think of the words of JFK " ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country", then ask yourself "What the hell is my country is doing TO me."

Posted by: FrankPorterFL | May 28, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

635,000 GOVERNMENT employees at $15 per hour for 40 hours per week for 3 months! $7200 times 635,000 employees. Have fun with Obamacare. More wasteful spending by government.

Posted by: kellyjallen23 | May 28, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

You can't choose "American" because "American" is a Nationality, not a "race." If you insist anyway, there's a space where the enumerator could write it in. Obviously you're American - this is taking place in America after all. And those of you who are concerned about it costing so much money? You're the ones costing it more money by thinking you're making some political statement by not filling it out in the first place. Then people have to be trained and paid to go out and physically find you. People are so quick to say how patriotic they are, and you undoubtledy vote, no? Well being counted for the census is as important as voting when it comes to having your voice heard. It is in the US Constitution that the census shall be taken, and it has been done since the beginning of this country.

Posted by: grovers1010 | May 29, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Hey kellyjallen23, without those 635,000 employees we'd have Depression-era unemployment. So back off, Census=jobs.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 1, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

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